Make your Bonfire Night go with a bang

44 Foods’ Gemma Houltby remembers, remembers the fifth of Novembers gone by and sparks some ideas for this year’s low-key celebrations.

Bonfire Nights were amazing when I was a kid. Every year, Mum, Dad and I would bundle up in thick woollies, and drive to my friend’s house a few villages away.

Her parents had a beautiful cottage set in a partially wooded garden and the setting alone made Bonfire Night magical.

The dads would head off down the garden, ready to give each other sound advice on the best way to set up fireworks. Our mums would gather in the kitchen to sort out the food. Meanwhile, we’d be dragging our Guys towards the bonfire, ready to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ at the fireworks.

Then the hot buffet would be ready and we’d help ourselves to buttery baked potatoes wrapped in tin foil, hearty hotdogs, mighty beef burgers, and various rice or pasta-based dishes. There would also be amazing homemade sweets, including trays and trays of treacle toffee.

But nothing takes me back to those nights faster than tasting a toffee apple. That sugary crackle as you bit through the sticky, ruby-red glaze, followed by the rush of sharp apple is autumn through and through for me.

My daughters have never found the appeal in toffee apples, but they are starting their own food traditions. They love treacle sponge and they’re already planning to whip one up in readiness for Bonfire Night. It’s such a simple recipe (add the juice and zest of one lemon, 150g of soft, light brown sugar and 250g of golden syrup to your usual Victoria sponge recipe) and perfect served warm with a dollop of sweetened, stewed apples and lashings of custard.

It will make a fabulous dessert for this year’s feast. In recent years, we’ve opted for large fireworks displays but in this year of uncertainty, we’re planning to recreate something low key and akin to those fun garden parties.

So what’s on my shopping list for Bonfire Night?

I’ll definitely be grabbing a pack of thick pork sausages for the girls and maybe something with an extra kick, like the chilli and fennel ones for the adults.

I’m also tempted by the Aberdeen Angus seasoned steak burgers and, of course, we can’t do without an assortment of rolls and buns to go with them.

For perfect jacket spuds, I’ll be opting for Mudwalls’ baking potatoes. But, assuming we can invite a couple of guests, we’re also planning to up our game with a smoky pulled pork joint.

That way, we can make some new food memories of our own!

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